The day is hot and humid, yet she huddles under a sweatshirt of red fleece.
"Take it off ... it isn't hot." I urge, then insist. "I mean it. Take it off, now."
With a sigh she complies but only because she is home, away from school, away from classmates - but not away from her own doubts.
How I dreaded that this season would come, and now it has. It is bittersweet to see my child blossoming into outward beauty while slipping into the seemingly unavoidable insecurity that middle school brings. No amount of building up by parents seems enough to barricade tender hearts from the comments of same-age companions.
"That's what you think. That's not what they say."
Yes, I know. I really do know. In my mind's eye I see myself at her age, only it wasn't a red fleece I hid under but rather a full-length gray corduroy trench coat. (Really.) And I remember the "they." The ones who mock and say the ground shakes when you do jumping jacks in P.E. class. The ones who snicker and make the whooshing sound of a popped balloon when a ball hits you smack in the chest and you are the one who is embarrassingly bigger and taller and more developed than all the girls around you.
It doesn't seem to matter that there are so many more people on your side than against you; it's still the few and far between with mean words that hit the mark, while it's the kind and encouraging ones that immaturity and self-deprecation fails to fully appreciate.
Lord, help us. Help her. Don't let her mind wander where the enemy lies in wait to destroy confidence and joy. Lift her eyes from self to those around her. Show her that true beauty is found in the heart and its expressions of kindness and service to others. Let her see herself confidently as a unique, God-imprinted creation; yet also fairly as not more valuable but equally valuable because she is Yours.
May she see herself as You see her - "You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you." Song of Solomon 4:7
May she value her position in Your family - "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God ..." John 1:12
And may she find her purpose in Your plan - "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10